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City Football Group engages partner to explore arena project

City Football Group, the parent company of English Premier League football club Manchester City, has partnered with US venue development, advisory and investment company Oak View Group to explore the possible construction of a new arena on land close to the Etihad Stadium.

Following months of reports concerning CFG’s apparent interest in developing a venue that would rival the city’s existing Manchester Arena, OVG has confirmed its interest in the project. OVG is currently leading the redevelopment and operations of the new arena which is being built on the site of KeyArena to house Seattle’s expansion franchise in the NHL ice hockey league.

Following the opening of its UK office in March, the company announced that it was examining opportunities to bring the world’s best arenas to the world’s greatest cities. OVG and CFG are now exploring the opportunity for a new arena at the Etihad Campus in East Manchester. Feasibility studies include engagement with local residents and businesses to understand community priorities.

CFG is working with OVG as part of its commitment to continuing the growth of the Eastlands area of Manchester and the Etihad Campus as a thriving community and world-leading sporting and leisure destination. OVG has stressed that any project in the city would be entirely privately-financed and would not seek any public subsidy.

Tim Leiweke, co-founder and chief executive of Oak View Group, said: “Manchester is an amazing city with a proud music and sporting history, and one that we believe would see substantial benefits from a new arena. East Manchester, in particular, has a strong track record in entertainment and hosting major events.

“Over the last two decades, Manchester has consistently ranked in the top five global cities for arena events. A new world-class arena would create thousands of skilled jobs, apprenticeship and training programmes, and generate significant additional revenue for businesses in the city.

“Understanding the priorities of the community will be a critical part of any proposal, and we are delighted to be working closely with City Football Group as we begin this initial phase of consultation.”

Contacted by TheStadiumBusiness.com, an OVG spokesman said there is no set timeline for the plans, which have led to questions in Manchester over whether the city could accommodate two arenas with capacities in excess of 20,000.

Indeed, John Sharkey, executive vice-president of European operations at SMG, which runs the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena, in June stated that the city cannot sustain another arena of this size. Sharkey said it would “only be a matter of time” before the competition caused by a second major arena forced the Manchester Arena under.